Monday, August 08, 2016

Library Makerspaces and Side Hustle Support

Library makerspaces can be excellent resources for side hustlers. Makerspaces vary from library to library, but can help with prototyping products, signage, design and editing software, textile work, media production, and experimentation. Sometimes, this support can be provide free for software related projects, or at cost for projects requiring material supplies.

Our makerspace here at the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County provides 3D printing and scanning, sewing machines, a product photography table, a video green screen and lighting, cameras, a sound recording booth, Adobe software, large format printing, button makers, media conversion, a book printing machine, and a laser cutter/engraver. We also provide online instruction through

This support is great for inventors, photographers, videographers, fashion designers, bloggers, musicians, voice over work, graphic designers, writers, media converters, artists, and anyone in need of display/signage for their own side hustle. So don't neglect the best value out there for your side hustle. Check with your local libraries!

Wednesday, August 03, 2016

Library Support for Side Hustlers

**I'm currently working on a library workshop to show side hustlers what kind of support they can receive from their local library. I thought I'd share some of my thoughts here.**

The topic I’m writing on at work is the intersection of the library and the user community--most specifically, the side hustle community. I’m trying to put together a series of guides, workshops, videos, etc. that will help people who are creating side businesses to get them off the ground.

What is a side hustle?
"A side hustle is a business you run in your free time that allows you the flexibility to pursue what you're most interested in. It’s a chance to delve into food, travel, fashion, or whatever you’re passionate about whilst keeping your day job." ( Side hustlers are people looking to add some income from something they are passionate about, and, with our focus on lifelong learning, libraries are uniquely positioned to help.

Why would we do this? What is the need?
I think that there is a need because of stagnant income levels which drive people to need multiple sources of revenue. I also think that automation is gradually taking away jobs in many economic sectors. Corporations are also cutting back on labor to provide more value for their shareholders. All of this is pushing labor out of the market, and triggering a need for more creative streams of revenue.

Why are libraries uniquely positioned to help with this?
Libraries are the original sharing economies. We pool our resources to provide educational and cultural material to better our society. Libraries can be publicly funded, and they are located throughout the country. This means that there is a pretty good distribution of resources. Libraries are also committed to lifelong learning, which is a core component of the side hustle.

How can libraries support this movement?
We can provide books and articles, of course. In addition to that, however, we can provide workshops, working space, technology, instruction, referrals, connections, and more. Our library has supporting collections for small business, careers, grants, scholarships, intellectual property, and continuing education or tutoring. We have a makerspace, an adult learning center, a technology center, and training software that can help people learn new skills. We also have staff members with specialized knowledge who can help patrons navigate the entrepreneurial waters. We also have access to a variety of databases which can help the patrons with demographics and market research.

What are some additional resources?
There are any number of websites and articles devoted to side hustles. Among those are:

There are some helpful books, as well:
The economy of you : discover your inner entrepreneur and recession-proof your life, by Kimberly Palmer
The mocha manual to turning your passion into profit : how to find and grow your side hustle in any economy, by Kimberly Seals-Allers
Born for this : how to find the work you were meant to do, by Chris Guillebeau

How does your library support side hustlers? Are you a side hustler who finds help at your local library? Share in the comments below.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Co-Working in Libraries: An Introduction
Photo: Amanda Mills
As our economy continues to change, it's becoming more and more important for libraries to offer resources to help people who are looking for new opportunities. As companies continue to shed jobs, replacing them with automation, it is becoming increasingly necessary for workers to rely on their own efforts. Providing co-working spaces is one way libraries can support people who are taking on roles as contractors, freelancers, and entrepreneurs.

So what is co-working? According to David Lee King and Michael Porter in “Create a Library ‘Tech Shop’,” (American Libraries Magazine, March/April 2012, p. 57) co-working “...brings together independent workers, freelancers, small business owners, and others who need workspace. These folks regularly gather to brainstorm ideas, team up on projects, and work in a more social setting.” It can also be described as “...a recent movement of independent ‘workspaces’ that are created for remote workers, location neutral workers, and independent professionals.” (Welch, Jasper, “The Power of Collaboration,” Economic Development Journal, Fall 2012, Volume 11, No. 4, p. 36-41.)

There is a need for co-working spaces, because in 2011 “...approximately 80 percent of net new jobs created in the U.S. come from companies with 20 or fewer employees (Welch, 36.)" As these companies tend to form quickly, and be limited in resources, office costs may be too much to bear as they get their starts. Additionally, for those who are working alone as freelancers or individual contractors, there may be a tension between the desire to work alone and to collaborate. Co-working spaces help companies to save money on meeting/office space while offering some degree of interaction and collaboration.

In many co-working spaces, you will find meeting rooms equipped with white/SMART boards, flat screens, tables, projectors, and DVD players. You may also find computers and WiFi access, as well as printers, scanners, and popular business and creative software. Some spaces will include lockers for personal belongings. Libraries may also provide mentoring, workshops, and video training, while you can always find books, magazines, newspapers, and sometimes professional journals.

There are a few obstacles for libraries to deal with in trying to establish co-working spaces. These may include finding available space, finding mentoring resources, securing funding, and staffing such a location. This is in addition to providing the technology for patrons. Another issue is the question of exclusivity. Many libraries have application processes to secure free "memberships." Otherwise, the space may be taken over by anyone looking for a table or a quiet place to read. Another issue is whether the space would be staffed or be more of a self-service option for patrons. Community partnerships and grants may provide some of the support necessary for new co-working spaces.

So, how has this been working for libraries? Take a look at some of the articles and examples below.

Thursday, August 06, 2015

Sharing the Work

Scanning the cliffs near Logan Pass for mountain goats (Citizen Science) (4427399123)
By GlacierNPS [CC BY 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Working together, even to change the world, doesn’t have to involve a great deal of effort. In the spirit of the “work smarter, not harder” mantra, platforms for problem solving demonstrate that mass collaboration can result in successful projects while reducing each participant’s workload.
Anthony D. Williams, PLATFORMS FOR 

One of the benefits of Globally Distributed Creative Problem Solving is this ability to share the work of changing the world. In the face of a never-ending cycle of bad news, our natural reaction may be to turn away in defeat, thinking that the problems are too big for us to do anything about. What could we possibly do in the face of environmental and cultural inertia, a billion dollar lobbying industry, and years of poor education?

Well, hundreds of people around the world, using a simple disk and a data gathering app, can provide data that will help scientists create an accurate map of the world's phytoplankton population. "Citizen scientists" around the world can help provide data to numerous scientific studies, accelerating the research process.

If you are interested in participating, you can find a number of projects at Citizen Science AllianceScientific American, National Geographic, as well as this list on Wikipedia.

Saturday, August 01, 2015

Distributed Imagination

I want to start this post by explaining why yesterday's post was so, well, abbreviated. When I returned to blogging this week, I made a commitment that I would post 60 entries in 60 days. I really want to make it a habit to provide you with a daily summary of what I'm learning in this new venture.

The problem is, I'm still getting the hang of coming up with material on a daily basis. Looking back on yesterday, I see that I would be better off firing off a quick thought that I had, rather than trying to analyze an article when I don't have the time to do it justice. With that in mind, I will try to handle those situations better in the future.

So, with that out of the way, I would like to get back to the paper by John Seely Brown.

Rather than summarize it, I would like to single out one concept that I found to be extremely thought provoking. That would be the concept of a "network of imagination". This relates to what Brown sees as the importance of play, and world creating in particular.

"World building unleashes human potential through imagination. It allows us to dream of something that doesn’t yet exist and construct the context and content around it so that it could be."
This is fascinating to me, because it touches on what I believe is one of humanity's greatest failures today--a failure of imagination. We lean so heavily on mass media for our collective imagination, that we seldom stop to ask whether or not this imagination is serving us well. The world that our collective imagination seems to be building at this point is one of fear. Whether it's fear of our future, fear of nature, or fear of those living among us, we begin to base our decisions on these fears, and we are building a world that is unsustainable. At some point, we will make what we imagine real, confirming what we feared all along.

This is a far cry from what could positively be imagined. I think of the world that Gene Roddenberry built in his conception of Star Trek. The future he ultimately imagined was one of peace and cooperation. Some of the physical things he imagined have become reality in our day and age: cell phones, mobile computing devices, blue tooth headsets....

We need to get back to positively imagining our future and the solutions to the great problems that face us. There are many people working on these problems with a positive future in mind, but that needs to extend to the culture at large. I think that one of the great tasks of science fiction is this imagining.

Brown speaks of "Networks of Imagination" and he imagines these networks rising from collective action. I think that these networks have to work hand in hand with Globally Distributed Problem Solving Communities. There is a place for everyone; problem visualizers, problem solvers, data gatherers, those who can reframe problems in new contexts, people who can provide nudges from seemingly unrelated fields, and people who can imagine how problems and solutions could play out in the future.

We don't just need experts. We need everyone.

Friday, July 31, 2015

John Seely Brown and Entrepreneurial Learning

I was reading an article this morning on the blog of Irving Wladawsky-Berger (which I highly recommend that you add to your feed reader) when I came across a couple of posts about John Seely Brown. Brown was chief scientist at Xerox for a number of years, and is now Independent Co-Chairman of Center for the Edge at Deloitte. The topic of the most recent post was Brown's paper "Cultivating the Entrepreneurial Learner in the 21st Century".

It's been a busy day, so look for a better summary this weekend.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

The Other Kind of Distributed Creative Problem Solving

According to an article posted in Techcrunch, IBM and its Watson project are teaming up with CVS to monitor customer data to pinpoint health problems before customers experience a medical crisis. The article reports that "CVS will allow Watson to scour many millions of data points from patient’s clinical records, medical claims, and fitness devices to go through the same cognition process as others within the Watson ecosystem, but the idea here is to aid CVS nurses and pharmacists in determining patient risk."

The network relies on the data that is recorded by humans and machines, processing it faster than humanly possible. This will be increasingly the case as technology progresses. We will find many more tasks for Watson (and others) to work on, hopefully increasing our problem solving pace.

I think, though, that Globally Distributed Creative Problem Solving by humans will result in a more human world. That is, if we continue to remove the obstacles to global cooperation. A globally distributed network of unique human experiences, that cannot yet be quantified, should allow us to solve problems that result from our sometimes irrational behavior.

Perhaps, future cooperation between these global problem-solving networks will begin to resemble the interaction between left and right hemispheres of the brain--the human side, and the machine side. Or maybe we will fail to keep up, and Watson will, as Stephen Hawking predicts, become our Skynet.

IBM Watson